Tuesday, January 12

Meat Curing 101: Homemade Sausage & Salami

Our most favorite winter tradition is stuffing sausages with Vittorio & then hanging them from the rafters of our farmhouse to dry in the cool winter air! If you are interested in getting elbow deep in meat - try one of our cooking classes at our farm in Le Marche on sausage making & meat curing! You can taste the difference & just think of the bragging rights over all your foodie friends!Vittorio has a passion for pork

the meat
People tend to think of sausages as being the leftover parts of the pig - but here in Italy we use the shoulder or spalla of the pig. This cut has the perfect amount of fat to meat ratio and is very flavorful. No "blue-light" supermarket special - buy the highest quality - you're taking the time to make homemade sausges so splurge!

the casing
When it comes to the casing - it is what it is - the small intestine of the pig - you can go to any good high-quality butcher & they should be able to point you in the right direction. (Usually they come packed in salt.) To use them - rinse them thoroughly & soak in a bath of white wine.

the equipment
Grinders: If you have a kitchen aid Mixer they sell the attachment for sausage making or go for the gold & get a heavy duty meat grinder from Atlas or Tre Spade so you can keep it up all year. We use a modified & suped up grinder from Tre Spade with an electric motor.
Stuffers: a device for filling the sausage - again an attachment kitchenaid.
Toothpick, fork - something to prick the casings

the recipe & ingredients
These are guidelines - adjust how you like - more salt or peppercorn, fennel, garlic - it doesn't matter its up to you. We prefer the recipe here - it is just awesome & hits a home run every time - guest come back salivating for more & so do we!! Just remember that when you are mixing & grinding to keep meat as cold as possible (40 F or lower) during processing.

Homemade Italian Sausage Recipe
10 lbs Find the best pork shoulder possible
30 gr salt per kilo of meat
pepper to the eye/ how you like it
Half a glass of white wine

Homemade Italian Salami Recipe
Use the above ingredients & just tweak it a bit:
Use a bigger casing & a net that will hold its shape available at the butcher.
32 g of salt per kilo

sausage & salami
Soak a clove of garlic in the white wine for 2 hours or so, then remove & discard.
Grind the meat.
Spread the ground meat out & sprinkle salt, pepper & white wine.
Mix & incorporate very well.
Shape into balls about the size of a soft ball and stuff it meat stuffer - push all the air out.
Then gently push the meat into the casings.

good size for salami

size of sausage link

Give it a twist over every 4inches or so - what looks like a normal sausage size. A bit bigger for the salami. Be careful NOT TO OVERSTUFF as the meat will burst out through the sides. You'll get the hang of it & feel for the right size after a few turns.
Prick a few wholes throughout the sausages to allow air to pass through the casing.

The sausages can be eaten immediately or hung to dry for about a month in a cool dry place. BE CAREFUL - there are NO PRESERVATIVES - Pay close attention that you have hung the meat to dry in a cool dry place - never above 4degree Celsius. Consult a book or talk with a butcher who has down this before. Rotate the meat on the hooks every day or so.
After about a month, you will see them change & will start to shrivel & become firm - now they are ready!

preserve & store
From here you can preserve them under oil, lard or in a vacuum sealed bag - this is will last for a good six months.

If you skip the curing you can grill them up & enjoy fresh homemade sausages the very same day! If the meat has been cured - peel the casing off as you would salami - slice & serve with antipasta! Pairs perfectly with pecorino (sheep's milk) cheese!

Botulism is a serious form of food poisoning caused by eating food contaminated with the toxin botulin. This is the most debated part of the process because no one wants to get sick. We use the recipe above that has been passed down to us from locals that have made this exact recipe for years. I asked our good friend a retired cardiologist how many cases of botulism he has seen from cured meat & he couldn't think of one. (Maybe it's just that Italians are now genetically immune to this toxin due to years of eating cured meat!)

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